Appellate court upholds multimillion-dollar verdict for collagen supplement inventor

Jury ruled that NeoCell Corp. officers conspired to dissolve the majority partner’s shares in
the Irvine supplement company’s manufacturing arm.

RIVERSIDE, Calif., April 8, 2019 — A jury’s $5.4 million verdict against an Irvine, Calif.
skincare company for trying to cheat a business partner was unanimously upheld by a
three-justice panel of the California Court of Appeal in a decision released on April 5.
Inventor Ahmad Alkayali sued NeoCell Corp. and his former business partners in 2013 after
they dissolved his 72% equity share in a collagen supplement factory without paying him or
even informing him of the move.

“I am very pleased the Court of Appeal reached the right decision and upheld the jury
verdict in all respects,” said Attorney Robert Tauler, of Los Angeles commercial litigation
firm Tauler Smith LLP. Tauler obtained the verdict in late 2015 after 14 days of trial
spanning three months. “It has been a long and difficult road to obtain this result, but the
Court’s detailed opinion makes this all the more gratifying.”

The justices upheld the Riverside County jury’s 2015 decision to award Alkayali $4.26
million in economic damages and $500,000 for emotional distress, plus $185,000 in punitive
damages against Akram Quadri, one of his former business partners.

The dispute centered around collagen supplement manufacturer Healthwise Nutraceuticals,
Inc., and sister company NeoCell, which marketed and sold the products. Alkayali owned
most of Healthwise, and the defendants owned Neocell and 28% of Healthwise. Following a
lawsuit over NeoCell, which Alkayali founded and sold, the defendants colluded to dissolve
Healthwise and transfer its assets to NeoCell without informing or compensating Alkayali.
The trial court reduced the jury verdict after trial, in portions of the final judgment that were
not part of the appeal.

The appellants unsuccessfully argued that the final judgment was not supported by
substantial evidence in various respects, including the eventual amount of damages
awarded. “We disagree with (Appellant’s) characterization of the state of the evidence,”
Justice Marsha G. Slough wrote in the April 5 decision. Justice Douglas P. Miller and Justice
Carol D. Codrington concurred.

Tauler Smith Successfully Defends Real Estate Developer in Seven Day Jury Trial

Firm Attorneys Robert Tauler and Dillon Millar successfully defended a real estate holding corporation and several individual defendants after a seven day jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, obtaining dismissal of 23 claims, including fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, in litigation that spanned close to three years.

The dispute arose in 2016 regarding loan agreements obtained for a property development in Los Angeles. Judge Elizabeth White presided over the seven day jury trial, dismissing claims during trial by granting Defendants’ motion for nonsuit, as well as dismissing Plaintiffs’ claim for attorneys fees.

“I could not be more pleased with our preparation and performance” said lead trial attorney Robert Tauler, “we really gave it everything we had, and I am glad things went our way.”

After submitting their case, the parties were able to resolve their remaining claims prior to receiving a final judgment, forestalling future litigation and culminating in dismissal.

Rover.com won’t reveal how many dogs have died after dog owners use their app

The Seattle start-up refuses to produce dead dog statistics sought in a consumer’s lawsuit, claiming it doesn’t keep track. A judge will consider the matter.

The popular dog-sitting website Rover wants a judge to prevent discovery of the number of dogs killed or injured under their dog-sitters’ care, claiming that the information is irrelevant to a lawsuit alleging that Rover makes false representations to consumers about the safety of using their app. 

Click here to read the full article on EIN News.

Tauler Smith’s Valerie Saryan named Top 40 Young Lawyer by NAOWIL

Valerie Saryan has been selected as a Top 40 Young Lawyer in Business Law by the National Alliance of Women in Law.

Saryan’s practice focuses on commercial litigation and she specializes in transactional law, fashion law, and false advertising. Saryan is a graduate of Whittier College School of Law and received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Tufts University in Massachusetts. She joined Tauler Smith LLP in 2016.

“I am proud to see Ms. Saryan’s hard work get recognized at such an early stage in her career,” said Robert Tauler, of Tauler Smith LLP.

NAOWIL honors the best women lawyers in the country as part of their mission to advance the position of women in the legal profession.

Click here to read the full press release on EIN.

Nomad Management Loses Key Rulings Against Industry Model Group in Trade Secrets Lawsuit

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that a lawsuit will proceed against Co-founder and Director of Nomad Model Management LA and former employees of Industry Model Group for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and unfair competition, and that countersuits against Industry will be dismissed, in a series of rulings handed down against Nomad Model Management. A similar judgement also took place in New York City, where Nomad Model Management’s motion to dismiss was denied and Industry Model Group’s cross-motion to discontinue the action without prejudice in order to pursue the California Action was granted.

Click here to read the full article.

Coco Rocha loses modeling agency battle

Coco Rocha has gotten herself caught in the middle of a model war.

The cover girl, who took a management and ownership stake in Nomad Mgmt two years ago, just lost a battle with Federico Pignatelli, the owner of Industry Model Group and Pier59 Studios. Pignatelli sued Nomad after Giovanni Bernardi left Industry’s Los Angeles office after just six months to help create Nomad Los Angeles.

“It is clear that Bernardi only took the position at Industry to obtain trade secrets, confidential information, employees and resources for his own venture,” Pignatelli’s lawyer Robert Tauler wrote in an LA Superior Court suit.

Click here to view full article on Page Six.

Doping experts contradict some of Clemson’s theories on drug test results

Medical experts this week cast doubt on some of the theories laid out by Clemson as to how three football players, including star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, tested positive for the banned substance ostarine prior to the College Football Playoff.

In a press conference before the Cotton Bowl last month, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said the drug could have come from any source. The players were ruled ineligible for the Tigers’ Cotton Bowl matchup with Notre Dame and the national championship game, which Clemson won in a one-sided victory over Alabama.

Click here to read the full article on The Post and Couriers.

Athletes Falling Victim to Production Contamination

Clemson losing hope that Dexter Lawrence can play vs. Notre Dame: ‘You feel heartbroken for him’

Robert Tauler, a trial lawyer for the Los Angeles firm Tauler Smith, told the Tribune that bits of ostarine can end up in NCAA-approved supplements such as protein powder if factory workers are not careful about product “runoff” or diligent about cleaning machinery.

“We’ve seen it happen a lot,” Tauler said. “Athletes’ careers are in jeopardy, and it’s really a travesty. The concept that they would take (ostarine) and risk everything is ridiculous; the effect is not even close to that of steroids.”

Read full article on chicagotribune.com.

FDA isn’t alone in targeting male enhancement products laced with drugs

A company selling male enhancement products has devised a strategy to target competing products adulterated with undeclared drugs: sue the retailers that sell them.

Attorney Robert Tauler can relate to the challenges facing FDA in holding accountable distributors of products marketed as dietary supplements but contaminated with undeclared prescription drugs.

His law office, Tauler Smith LLP, has estimated there are 10,000 name variations of similar male enhancement products containing adulterants. They feature such names as Black Mamba Premium, Rhino 8 Platinum 8000 and Stiff Nights.

Read full article at Natural Products Insider.

Fraud Case Against Puls Technologies Headed to Trial

Multimillion-dollar startup and founder Itai Hirsch alleged to have defrauded early shareholder; plaintiff seeks to subpoena future investors

It is important that early stage employees who are promised equity obtain full discovery of what was told to future investors about them…”

— Attorney Robert Tauler

A San Diego Superior Court judge indicated at a Nov. 30 hearing that subpoenas to investors in Puls Technologies would likely go forward in a case dealing with alleged early stage fraud. The underlying lawsuit accuses Puls Technologies Inc., of San Francisco, and its CEO Itai Hirsch of defrauding an early-stage shareholder out of millions of dollars, equivalent to a 5 percent stake in the company. The court also recently ruled that the lawsuit would go to trial, denying Puls’ and Hirch’s attempt at summary judgment.

Court papers allege that Hirsch was holding secret funding talks with Sequoia CapitaI that were not disclosed to the plaintiff. The fraud claim alleges that the plaintiff was dismissed from the company under false pretenses just weeks before Puls (then known as Cellsavers and based in San Diego) announced $3 million in funding in December 2015, the lawsuit states. Altogether, Puls has now raised over $90 million in funding, with $50 million just this year coming from multiple sources, including Samsung and Temasek, a holding company owned by the government of Singapore — thus dramatically increasing the value of the plaintiff’s stock, according to the claim.

“It is important that early stage employees who are promised equity obtain full discovery of what was told to future investors about them,” said Robert Tauler, the plaintiff’s Los Angeles attorney. “A lot of startups are financed in the shadows, and individuals who claim they are owed equity are entitled to know about all deals that impact their investment.”

According to the lawsuit, Hirsch kept the funding deal under wraps so that he could keep the plaintiff’s promised equity for himself and his new investors, while taking advantage of the plaintiff’s work — which was crucial in justifying the start-up’s valuation. Though a gamble, work-for-stock deals are not an unusual arrangement in the start-up world, with the potential of owning a valuable equity stake in a successful company.

“We are not sure at this time what Plaintiff’s stock is worth today, because valuations in start ups tend to fluctuate,” said Tauler, of Tauler Smith LLP. “Experts will be engaged to make this determination.”

Puls provides in-home repair and installation for electronic devices and smart homes, like a Lyft for technicians. It was recently named one of LinkedIn’s top start-ups to watch.

About Tauler Smith LLP
Tauler Smith LLP specializes in high-stakes commercial litigation representing both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of areas, including business disputes, false advertising, the foreign corrupt practices act, and unfair competition.

Robert Frank
Newsroom Public Relations
+1 206-790-6324
robert@newsroompr.com